Decision Day: DOMA and Prop-8 Fall

Defense of Marriage Act is Unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment..

Link to the decision: UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR, EXECUTOR OF THE
ESTATE OF SPYER, ET AL.

From SCOTUSblog:

So does this mean that I’ll be able to file joint taxes with my wife? From Amy: Yes. Perhaps for the first time ever, many people will be eager to file their taxes next April 15.

And Prop 8 fails, too!

Link to the decision: HOLLINGSWORTH ET AL. v. PERRY ET AL.

From SCOTUSblog:

Here’s a Plain English take on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage: After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.

And a good analysis of what the end of DOMA means for married gay couples:

The Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act means that gay married couples will have access to the federal benefits now enjoyed by other marrieds.

These benefits include tax breaks, Social Security benefits and estate planning advantages that until now were denied gay couples, even if their marriages were recognized under state law.

Among other things, gay marrieds will now be able to:

  • claim Social Security benefits based on a spouse’s working record and qualify for survivor benefits.
    fund an IRA or Roth IRA for a nonworking spouse.
  • split a retirement fund or other assets without triggering tax bills if they divorce.
  • exempt health care benefits for a spouse from their federal income.
  • bequeath their estate to a spouse without triggering potential federal estate taxes.

These gains may come with a cost: as NerdWallet puts it, “federal income tax brackets are in fact easier on high-income individuals than they are on most high-income married couples.” NerdWallet figured that same-sex couples earning more than $146,000 may see their tax bill go up by over $1,000.
One of my gay friends, a financial planner, just posted to her Facebook page that her taxes are likely to go up by several thousand dollars. But she was happy, as she put it, to “take one for the team.”

The Supremes
Thanks, Supremes!

Posted in GLBT Issues Tagged with: , , , ,

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